Herb Reed of vocal group The Platters dead at 83

Tue Jun 5, 2012 2:12pm EDT
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By Ros Krasny

BOSTON (Reuters) - Herb Reed, the last of the founding members of 1950s R&B crooners The Platters, known for hits such as "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" and "Twilight Time," has died at the age of 83.

Reed's manager said the singer died in Boston on Monday after a period of declining health that included chronic heart disease. Reed had lived in the Boston area for many years, most recently Arlington, Massachusetts.

The Platters, the most popular black singing group of their time, were formed as harmonizing street singers in Los Angeles in 1953 by Reed - who is credited with coming up with the group's name - and four others.

The group, with a lineup that included female vocalist Zola Taylor in addition to Reed, David Lynch, Tony Williams and Paul Robi, went on to have four number-one singles on the U.S. charts between 1955 and 1958 with its soulful pop harmonies.

Two of the Platters' recordings, "The Great Pretender" and "Only You (And You Alone)" are in the Grammy Hall of Fame, which honors recordings of lasting significance.

During the second half of the 1950s the Platters toured the world as "international ambassadors of musical goodwill," a tag created by Mercury, their record label.

The group also appeared in a number of rock'n'roll themed movies, notably 1956's "Rock Around the Clock" featuring Bill Haley and His Comets.

The Platters continued to record until the late 1960s and tour in various incarnations, and with more than 100 different members, until the present day. Reed was the only member of the group to record on all of their nearly 400 recordings.   Continued...

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend, founder and naming member of The Platters, Herb Reed is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters June 5, 2012. REUTERS/Balboni Communications Group, LLC/PRNewsFoto/Handout